- Goldrick, James, Commodore, RAN
- Early warships, Ship design and development
- RAN Ships
- HMAS AE2
- September 2011 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Submarines have long provided a capability which has had a special potential to meet Australia’ s unique requirements for national defence. That capability was recognised very early in our history and the fact that so many efforts were made to establish or retain a submarine force indicates that this recognition has been, if not sustained, at least a recurring element in national strategic thought. Stealth, striking power and endurance represent a powerful combination, in offence as well as defence, whether supporting a purely national campaign, or as a contribution to an alliance or coalition.
At the same time, the record of Australia’s submarine effort confirms that they are not simple to acquire or to operate. They have always been complex machines, often being at the leading edge of technology for their day and always demanding the highest standards of construction, maintenance and operation to ensure their survival in an unforgiving environment. They create great challenges not only for their owner navy but for the national support and industry base which must lie behind any submarine capability, challenges which can only be met by a deliberate, sustained and properly resourced effort on the part of all concerned. This was the key lesson of the first six phases of the history of submarine development in Australia and the reason why the 1927 Oberon class failed and the 1967 Oberons succeeded.
 The Honourable Athol Townley, Minister for Defence, to the House of Representatives 27 March 1962, CPD p. 946. Cited Peter Yule & Derek Woolner Steel, Spies & Spin: The Collins Class Submarine Story Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, 2008. p. 12.
 See ‘Report submitted by the Naval Director to the Honourable the Minister of State for Defence 15 November 2005’ Nicholas A. Lambert Australia’s Naval Inheritance: Imperial Maritime Strategy and the Australia Station 1880-1909 Papers in Australian Maritime Affairs No. 6, Maritime Studies Program, Canberra, 1998, p. 123.
 Bob Nicholls Statesmen and Sailors: Australian Maritime Defence 1870-1920 Balmain, 1995, pp. 94-95. See pp 99-100 for Creswell’s reservations about submarines in 1905. His 1906 visit to UK (p. 108) and first hand acquaintance with the B class, including a dive, did not change his opinion at this stage about the limitations of the petrol driven, short range craft.
 Letter from Alfred Deakin to Admiral Sir John Fisher of 12 August 1907 (with marginal comments by Fisher) Lambert Australia’s Naval Inheritance, Op. Cit. p. 150.
 See Richard Compton-Hall Submarine Boats: The beginnings of underwater warfare Conway Maritime Press, London, 1983, especially pp. 110-125 and pp. 167-71. For example, the first retractable periscope was not fitted to a British submarine until the D class in 1909.
 Nicholas A. Lambert ‘The Opportunities of Technology: British and French Naval Strategies in the Pacific, 1905-1909’ Naval Power in the Twentieth Century N.A.M. Rodger (Ed.) Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1996, p. 47.
 Lambert Australia’s Naval Inheritance, Op. Cit. pp. 154-155.
 In fact the first ‘heavy oil’ units used paraffin
 The submarine A-13 had successfully trialed a diesel engine in 1905.
 Nicholas Lambert Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution. p. 182
 Notes of the Proceedings of a Conference at the Admiralty 10 August 1909, Lambert Australia’s Naval Inheritance, Op. Cit. 180-184.
 David Stevens ‘”Defend the North”: Commander Thring, Captain Hughes-Onslow and the beginnings of Australian naval strategic thought’ David Stevens & John Reeve (Eds) Southern Trident: Strategy, history and the rise of Australian naval power’ Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 2001, p. 236.
 A.W. Jose The Royal Australian Navy Vol. IX Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1928, pp. 96-97.
 Ibid. pp. 239-248.
 For example, see Andrew Field Royal Navy Strategy in the Far East 1919-1939: Preparing for War against Japan Frank Cass, London, 2004 which explores British planning in considerable detail and shows just how much effort went into the problem.
 Perhaps significantly, many (if not most) of the first submarine experienced officers to achieve flag rank were posted to China or the East Indies. Dunbar-Nasmith VC served as C-in-C East Indies in 1932-34, Waistell as C-in-C China 1928-31, Little as C-in-C China 1935-38 and Layton as C-in-C China in 1940-41 (having served as Chief of Staff to C-in-C China 1931-33). Laurence served as Chief of Staff to C-in-C East Indies 1923-25.